TODAY, September 7th, Brazil celebrates its National Day, marking the 194th anniversary of our independence from Portugal in 1822. On this occasion, when we reflect about our national identity and our place in the world, it is with great satisfaction that I note the strength of the relations between Brazil and the Philippines and the great potential still left to intensify them. The Philippines stands out in one of the more dynamic regions of the world, thanks to the dynamic and enterprising character of its people and leaders.
Despite the geographical distance that separates our two countries, we are united by common values and historical ties. Filipinos and Brazilians share the legacy of multicultural peoples, shaped by diversity, a desire for development, the existence of solid democracies, diversified economies and an extensive environmental heritage. We also must face similar challenges in our common quest for assuring higher living standards for our citizens.
Brazil and the Philippines attribute high priority to fighting against poverty and overcoming social inequality. Both countries have launched conditional cash transfer programs as part of broader social protection and development networks aimed at granting millions of citizens a place and a voice in our societies. The two nations are firmly committed towards the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Brazil and the Philippines have often reaffirmed confidence in multilateralism as the way to achieve long-lasting and effective solutions for all relevant global issues and highlighted the fundamental roles played by MERCOSUR and ASEAN in the attainment of stability and prosperity in our respective regions. We share the same steady support for the central role of a stronger and more efficient United Nations.
The Brazilian Government will spare no efforts to create effective conditions for a sustainable deepening of our bilateral relations, inspired by the spirit of friendship and cooperation which has always prevailed between us. In the aftermath of the devastation caused by the Yolanda typhoon, it was that same spirit which led the Brazilian people to provide urgent humanitarian assistance for the Filipinos affected by that natural disaster.
A clear indication of the potential for the intensification of our ties is the growing bilateral trade, which today averages a total yearly amount of one billion dollars. Complementarities between our two economies provide multiple opportunities for an even more intensive exchange among our respective business leaders. Promotion of trade and investment must be a top priority in the process of tightening the bonds between our two countries.
Another force that brings Brazil and the Philippines together is our shared passion for sports, which had one of its finest moments during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. On this particular issue, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Hidilyn Diaz for her outstanding achievement in weightlifting. May her feat inspire all who use sport as a tool for education, development and peace. One must also stress, furthermore, the many ways by which sport can promote cooperation, social inclusion and health. They will certainly be showcased once again during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, from today until September 18th.
The topics mentioned above are but a few of the many areas of convergence between Brazil and the Philippines, which have celebrated this year the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. On this solid base, bilateral ties will certainly grow stronger, in the best interests of Brazil and the Philippines.